Algerian steel imports up by 24% in first half of 2012

Algeria imported 2.27 million tonnes of steel with a value of $1.72 billion in the first half of 2012, according to figures recently released by the country’s customs authority.

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These figures were up by 24% and 18% respectively against the corresponding period last year, when it imported 1.82 million tonnes with a value of $1.45 billion.

Rebar and wire rod products made up the bulk of Algeria’s steel imports. The north African nation imported about 1.81 million tonnes of bar and rod in the first half of the year, up by 25% from 1.44 million tonnes in the same period last year.

Algeria does not import billet or other semi-finished products as it has very limited rolling capacity.

It imported 181,000 tonnes of hot rolled flat products, 165,000 tonnes of angles and other sections, 42,000 tonnes of coated flat products (mainly hot dipped galvanized coil) and 38,000 tonnes of cold rolled flat products in the first half of 2012, according to customs figures.

Algeria acquires the majority of its steel imports from Southern European countries. It imported 740,000 tonnes from Spain, 675,000 tonnes from Italy and 270,000 tonnes from Greece in the first half of the year, according to Algerian customs.

Over the same period, it imported only 35,000 tonnes from Turkey and 12,000 tonnes from Russia, while there were no imports from Ukraine.

In terms of domestic production, Algeria produced 416,000 tonnes of crude steel in the first seven months of the year, up by 35.5% year-on-year from 307,000 tonnes, according to the World Steel Assn (worldsteel).

Algeria has not developed its steel industry significantly in the past few years, in spite of its large deposits of iron ore and gas, a source close to an Algerian investment holding told Steel First.

The country’s government has not considered the steel industry a priority for development, the source added, in spite of the strong financial reserves it has accumulated thanks to rises in the price of oil over the past few years.

The poor condition of its infrastructure, however, will force Algeria to launch large construction projects, especially in housing, the source said.

This will mean stronger demand for steel in the local market in future, the source concluded.

But this growing demand will have to be met by higher imports if Algeria cannot expand its domestic steel industry rapidly in the near future.